Jay Gruden, here during a practice last week, says he expects Jim Haslett’s defense to change things up. (Richard Lipski/Associated Press)

Ever since Jay Gruden announced that Jim Haslett would remain as defensive coordinator, talk regarding the unit has involved expectations of an improved pass rush and a more aggressive style of play.

Gruden last week said Haslett, his assistants and players have focused primarily on installing the base defense, but that the coordinator has found spots here and there to experiment with a variety of blitz packages.

One of those occasions was last Thursday’s practice session, when during the walk-through portion, Haslett and his charges worked on a number of unconventional schemes designed to take advantage of his players’ strengths and create mismatches.

Jim Haslett, here teaching in 2010, will do a fair amount of tinkering with his pass-rushing personnel this offseason. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

“I think Coach Haslett is just champing at the bit and he’s slowly but surely installing more packages,” Gruden said. “As you can see we’ve been here not too long already and he’s already got the walk-arounds and he’s doing a good job of putting in some good blitz packages for third down and nickel situations.”

At times last week, Haslett used a front that featured five linebackers – Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley Jr. – and defensive end Jason Hatcher. Other times he used his traditional 3-4 front, but overloaded pass rushers to one side or the other. The coach also mixed up his personnel and alignments in the secondary here and there.

Haslett and the defense have in the past spent a good amount of time on similar packages during the offseason only to use them sparingly in games. But Gruden predicted that this year, the defense will feature a higher number of exotic blitzes this coming season as the unit aims to become more disruptive.

“The more versatile the players are … up front linebackers, safeties that can play at corner, corners that can play at safety, the more effective you can be and give the quarterbacks different looks,” Gruden said. “Because, as you know, great quarterbacks – Peyton Manning, Tom Brady – if you’re vanilla, they will kill you. So we have to be exotic a little bit here and there, but also be sound in what we do. Right now the OTA goal is to be sound defensively, know our system and then as we branch off maybe add a few elements to our pass rush or secondary.”

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